Strectch marks - the unwelcome badge of honor for many ladies...
These permanent scars on the stomach are most commonly unavoidable battle wounds from the miracle of pregnancy. They can appear anytime and anywhere the skin has been stretched beyond its limit. This excessive strain causes the elastic fibers in the skin to rupture, forming a series of streaked scars. This phenomenon may arise at the end of pregnancy, during rapid grwoth spurts in puberty, weight training, or excessive weight gain.
New stretch marks typically appear red, pink, purple or brown from the early inflammation in the skin. Over time (1-2 years), the scars will fade and lighten in color, but the striped bands of thinner skin are permanent.
Is there anything that I can do at home to help?
There are many over-the-counter remedies available. We have seen the best results with Bio-Oil twice a day (available in stores and online), trentinoin cream (Retin-A) prescription every night, and a potent hyaluronic acid gel twice a day (we have some available at the office). The earlier you begin treatment, the better the results. It is best to treat the stretch marks while they are still red and brightly colored. However, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, please consult with a dermatologist first. Older, faded stretch marks don't typically respond well to topical to topical creams. Please note that treatment takes time and lots of patience. We expect 6 months to see any noticeable results, so don't give up.
Are there any procedures that can help?
There is no guarantee of permanent stretch mark removal, but we can often make them much less noticeable. Fraxel laser resurfacing and repeated chemical peels have been used for many years. V-beam laser can improve the red discoloration but will not improve the thin, scarred effect. More recently we have seen good results with Infini Radiofrequency with Microneedling . However, our favorite procedure is a combination of Radiesse injections (for initial collagen stimulation) followed by a series of Microneedle treatments. We recommend starting with one set of Radiesse injections, followed by 3 monthly Microneedle sessions. This is typically repeated again for a final total of 2 Radiesse injections and 6 Microneedle treatments. We have a complete regimen that we recomend with topical creams and supplements to optimize your results. Growing collagen is a slow process and takes many months for the final effect. But your patience should be rewarded with permanent results.
What if I have severe stretch marks and loose skin?
We can always try these less invasive options, but we honestly recommend surgery at this point. Complete surgical removal of the damaged skin with a tummy-tuck is the best option for these cases.
I plan to get pregnant again in a year or two. Should I start treatments now?
We wouldn't recommend that you spend money on procedures if you plan to subject your skin to further stretching in the future. We can, however, get you on a topical program to help support the collagen and elastic fibers and minimize any further damage to the skin. When it's time to have your life back, we will be here for you.